Weary of the Wellington st. debate

I must confess my keen indifference to the proposal to rename Wellington Street in honour of Sir John A Macdonald.

I must confess my keen indifference to the proposal to rename Wellington Street in honour of Sir John A Macdonald. Measures to ease Wellington’s rush hour traffic purgatory would be considerably more helpful than new signage.

Would the name change amount to the proud repatriation of a historic street or an insecure act of revisionist vandalism? Who cares? City council has already devoted too much time to this non-issue, and there’s no telling how many more hours of historical wankery we’ll have endured in place of real city business by the time it comes up for a possible October vote.

In keeping with party politics, Tories are considerably more bullish on rechristening the street for their party’s legendary leader. Mayor Larry O’Brien and Coun. Peter Hume, both Conservatives, are in favour.

Across the table, Coun. Alex Cullen, who has belonged to both the Liberal and NDP parties, sent an email to colleagues describing our first prime minister as “a drunk and a taker of bribes,” as well as the one who gave the order to hang Louis Riel.

Bob Plamondon, the Tory who proposed the change, has at least managed to secure bipartisan support from former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and John Turner.

The endless street sign wrangling hasn’t been confined to party lines. No sooner was the name change suggested than someone piped up that Macdonald’s nation-building compadre George-Etienne Cartier should get a piece of the action, too, in order to acknowledge the country’s French fact. So Wellington would become MacDonald-Cartier. That has a familiar ring, don’t you think?

It seems there are so few worthy historical personages to immortalize with transportation infrastructure that we already have a Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, and a Macdonald-Cartier Airport. Oh, and a Cartier Street and a Macdonald Street, which intersect. The old boys are in little imminent danger of fading into obscurity here.

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King observed that Canada has too much geography and too little history, and maybe that’s the case here in the nation’s capital, too, where we have more streets than street names.

Pity, amidst all this shuffling of names, the poor tourists, cruising up and down our other stretch of Wellington Street in Westboro, searching in vain for the Parliament Buildings, before giving up and asking directions to the Palladium, or maybe the Corel Centre. Just another day in Bytown.